President Donald Trump praised the protesters in Hong Kong on Monday, urging Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping to respond peacefully.
“We’d like to see a very humane solution to that, I hope that’s going to happen,” Trump told reporters.
The president spoke about the protests after presiding over a signing ceremony of the United States trade deal with Japan at the White House.
Trump praised Hong Kong as a “world hub” of economic activity, and commented on news reports that he had seen of the ongoing protests.
“They have tremendous signage and they have a tremendous spirit for our country, a lot of American flags, a lot of Trump signs,” Trump said.
He signaled confidence that Xi could work out a deal with the protesters.
“I think if he met with some of the protest leaders, he could work out a deal with the protesters,” he said, but noted that it could be difficult to negotiate with the group.
“That could be one problem, you don’t have a specific leader of the group,” he said.
The president marveled at the crowd size of 2 million protesters in June.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Trump said. “We talk about crowd size, that was serious crowd size, right? The crowd size is much smaller now so maybe that’s saying something.”
Trump denied a CNN report that he promised Xi Jinping to be quiet about the Hong Kong protesters during the trade negotiations.
He warned Xi that he should continue to handle the protesters in a peaceful manner.
“If anything happened bad, I think that would be a very bad thing for the negotiations,” he said, referring to the ongoing trade talks.